Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Search of The Perfect Christmas Card

Okay, so I admit, we just finished celebrating Halloween and we are still weeks away from Thanksgiving. But if you are a mom like me, you have already started thinking about your Christmas or Holiday cards. I have already spent hours pouring over the new Shutterfly holiday cards,, as well as going through my pictures of the last year hoping of finding a great one to use. There are a lot of great sites out there, but I love Shutterfly because all of my pictures are already stored there so I don't have to go hunting down the photos I might want and the quality is fantastic!

Thinking back to years past, trying to get all four of our boys together, including the 2 year old for a photo session strikes fear in my heart. First I have to find outfits that all work together without them looking like that annoying "Cloud" commercial with all the kids wearing those terrible matching plaid shirts. Then I have to find a place and come up with a pose. And after all of that planning, I still have to coax them into sitting together (and yes, your brother has to sit close enough to be touching you), smile at the same time and not add any "bunny fingers" to their brother's head. Which makes everyone laugh but me.

I have a couple friends who are pretty good photographers and I am contemplating going that route. But if all else fails, I will need to crop and edit until I can find a couple pics good enough for a collage card. So here are some of my favorites so far, let me know what you think. Also, I would love if you could share any funny stories or photos you might have in your quest for the perfect family. And one more thing, when you can't figure out what to give the relatives this year, any photo gift of the kids will be cherished....Happy Holidays!

Here are some of my favorites from the 2010 catalog:

 Great Holiday Gifts:

There are offering free shipping right now as well as a great sale on a lot of gifts!

Bloggers! You can receive 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Natural Beauty, Simple and Cheap - Washing your Face with Oil?

A couple weeks ago, while reading one of my favorite blogs (, I read about something called the Oil-Cleansing Method which is a whole new way to wash your face. Basically, instead of using cleaners for your face which contain detergents and strip your skin of your natural oils, you actually use oil to wash your face. I know it sounds silly, but the theory is that most cleansers strip your face and cause your skin to create excess oil. Therefore, by washing with natural oils, it actually counteracts your own oil and helps clear and moisturize your skin.Oil dissolves oil.

I did a lot of research on this topic before I dove in (see some links at the end of the blog) to make sure I did it just right. I figured, if it didn't work, what did I have to lose. The thing about making your own oil cleanser, is that you can play around until you get it just right. The combination of oils you use depends on the type of skin you have.

The first oil is Castor Oil and it is the most important one. You can find it in most drug stores as it is used as a laxative. I found mine in CVS, you may have to ask if you don't see it. Castor Oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, and is also known to have healing and cleansing priorities. In other words, it will draw out the impurities in your skin. However, Castor Oil is potent and can be very drying. This is where the second oil comes in.

The majority of the articles I read said to use Extra-Virgin Olive Oil as the second choice. I read in a couple places that Sunflower Seed Oil works as well and feels a bit more luxurious. But I since I couldn't find that easily and I already had the Olive Oil so I went with that.

Here is what I do:

Pull my hair back and wash and dry my hands.
I pure some oil into my palm, about the size of a quarter and rub my hands up to warm the oil up.
I massage the oil on my face and neck.
Take a hot, wet facecloth and lay it over my face to open my pores. You can do this multiple times if you like.
Then I rinse the facecloth and use it to take the oil off.

It's really easy and it feels like a mini massage every night. If you need to exfoliate, just add some sugar to the oil, simple as that. They say it takes a few days for your skin to adjust and adapt to being clean and clear of blockages. I didn't have any problems though and honestly love the way it makes my skin feel. I have also read that you won't need to moisturize your skin after cleansing with oil but I still do.

Here are some suggestions in creating your blend of deep cleansing oil that I found:
  • For Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil and 70% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil and 80% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil and 90% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Good luck and have fun!

Here are some sites that might help...

Coming soon....why I will never use shampoo again!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Are You Ready for Some Football!

    Okay, so first I need to admit that I did not grow up loving football or any other sport for that matter. I did play sports such as soccer, cross country and field hockey. But I don't ever remember watching professional sports on TV with any type of enthusiasm. I do live in New England and now I have four boys, so sooner or later it was inevitable that I would become a huge sports fan.

    Now I must admit that I do love watching our Patriots, but what I love even more is watching the American Youth Football league every Sunday. It all started 5 years ago when my stepson (then only 5 years old) begged my husband to bring him down to our local park at the beginning of August to sign up for football. He came home that night wearing the coolest football jersey ever, and the other two boys decided they needed to play too. Then, of course, my husband became an assistant coach. And our football family was born.

    It's not just about the boys playing football, although of course that is the most important thing. But there is a whole other "family" that develops surrounding youth football. From the first week in August until the end of October (and longer if we are lucky), you see all the same families for 4 to 5 days a week. It is a huge commitment but it's so worth it. Five years and one baby later, and my two year old would never let me miss a night of football since that is where he gets to see all his friends.

    So I sit here on a Saturday night with butterflies in my stomach. Our boys will be playing a team tomorrow that is not only undefeated this season (as we are), but they have actually never lost a game in the last 2 years, and before that they didn't even keep score. There has already been some playful banter between the two coaches, on a popular Boston radio station none-the-less, to add to the drama. Our team is good, no doubt about it, and there is the whole, any team can beat any team on any given Sunday, but I am definitely nervous.

    There is no doubt about it that our boys will play their hearts out, and hopefully will have a lot of fun in the process. But only one team will leave undefeated tomorrow and I know who I am routing for!

    Go Wildcats!

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Moms and Back-to-School

    Thanks to my friends for passing this along today. I did not write it, but I most certainly can identify and I figured it was worth a couple laughs...I am not sure who the original author is, but she is genius. Enjoy!

    Misconceptions of Moms and Back-to-School

    Misconception Number 1: Moms miss their kids when they go back to school
    Seriously. I’ve had enough of you by now. Every morning with the “what are we going to do today, Mom?” is finally over. I’ve had looked at your face twenty-four seven for the last 77 days. It’s time to go learn something. No more asking me about the pool, when is the next snack or if you can stay up late and watch a movie. It’s over….You’re going back to Hogwarts and I get to have a life again. There is a Christmas morning for parents and it’s called “back to school”.

    Misconception Number 2: Moms like to go school shopping.

    Are you freaking kidding me? Why do I pay taxes?…so I can rack up a 200 dollar bill at Staples for crap that we have laying around my house in junk drawers. Why does it have to be new pencils? What’s wrong with the chewed up, broken strawberry shortcake pencils sitting in the bottom of the toy box for the last 6 months? And how many subject books can you possibly need? What happened to reading, writing and arithmetic. If they added a couple of things for parents to that list I wouldn’t mind so much….why not pencils, erasers and vodka …..or some Nyquil.

    Misconception Number 3: Moms like back to school night.

    Why must we do this every year? I got it already. You’re the teacher…I’m the parent. My kid is either going to be smart or dumb. If he gets a certain number or colored dot on his discipline chart, he can’t get a prize from the prize box. Pretty simple stuff. Listen, I’m pretty old school. If he doesn’t listen to you…you can throw something at him. I don’t care. But I got a lot of work to do at home and I’m paying a babysitter right now. Plus, I’m pretty sure you are going to assign some project on wigwams made by some Indian tribe I’ve never heard of, so I need to get home and start my research. So, I got it. We’re all here for the betterment of the kids. Blah Blah Blah. Can I leave now?

    Misconception Number 4: Moms like school paperwork.

    How many trees are you planning on killing to tell me the same stuff I had to pay a babysitter to listen to the other night? You know our name, where we live and our emergency phone numbers. He doesn’t have a nickname….call him “stinkbutt” for all I care. We don’t have any “special circumstances” that you need to know about. He lives in a home with two parents who may or may not like each other at any given time and they will fight. If that qualifies as a reason he can’t get his homework done on time then he won’t be able to function as an adult and have a real job so you may want to “educate” him on that life lesson.

    Misconception Number 5: Moms like covering books in that annoying sticky paper.

    What exactly will you be doing with these books that I have to cover them in a plastic laminate? Do you often teach in the rain? Or while the children are drinking soda and eating soup? Do you know how long that takes? Has any parent in the history of education been able to do it without any air bubbles in it? From now on I’m covering it the old way…brown paper bags. That way I can cover the books and pack their lunches at that same time. Who says moms can’t multitask?
    PS. Please tell my son if he can’t find his lunch to look in his science book.

    Misconception Number 6: Moms like helping you with your homework.

    What? I am scared out of my mind. I’m pretty sure that I forgot everything I learned in fifth grade by the time I was in sixth grade. I have no idea what you are talking about most days. I don’t really know my 12 times tables, I read the cliff notes to all your summer reading and I don’t know how to conjugate anything but I do know that song “conjuction junction what’s your function” if that helps at all. And please don’t even say the words “new math” to me. What the heck was wrong the old one?

    Misconception Number 7: Moms can’t wait to pack your lunch every day until we die.

    I hate doing laundry. Making dinner every night is the bane of my existence, so making your lunch every day for an entire year, in terms of “mom fun”, lies somewhere between brushing plaque off the dogs teeth and scheduling my annual pap smear. Listen, as a child I hated what my mom packed me for lunch. But, like every kid before me, and every generation to come you will find a kid to trade with…I’m sure someone likes sardines.

    Misconception Number 8: Moms love after school activities.

    I don’t know who made up this idea of organized clubs and sports but they should be the ones in charge of carting your ass around. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all after school programs. I just wish they would offer it during hours that would work best for me so that dinner wasn’t at 8:30 at night followed by 4 hours of homework. Why not do it on the weekends and call it “after-hours activities” so mommy and daddy could actually go out one night and pretend that we have a life of our own. Don’t worry about us though I’m sure that me and “what’s his name” will be married a very long time.

    Misconception Number 9: Moms don’t mind taking you to school if you miss the bus

    Your bus comes at 7:10 am….which means that you should be standing by the door at 7:05 am. Not eating breakfast , chasing the dog around the house or in the bathroom, asking me to check your homework while I’m taking a shower. Get it together! I don’t like running down the street in my jammies at 7:12 screaming “Please wait” or “If you stop I’ll show you my boobies.”

    Misconception Number 10: Moms cry on your first day of school

    We do cry but they are tears of joy. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world!! Sure, doctors save lives and CEOs run million dollar businesses but…you teach a kid not to poop their pants and then you can say you’ve made the world a better place.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    The New "Keeping up with the Joneses"

    Check out my new Guest Blog on Scary Mommy's her blog!

    Thanks for reading!

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    What I Did on My Summer Vacation

    Okay, so I am not sure the word vacation is the best way to describe my summer. As any parent that spends the summer home with the kids knows, it's probably the hardest I have worked in my life. I can remember summers past, sitting at my desk sad because my friends were "lucky" enough to take their kids to the beach and I was stuck at work. Fast forward to the summer of 2010, when the lucky one was me and just let me say, it was no picnic. So as the kids start their new school year, I thought I would put together my list of things I did on my summer vacation. Enjoy.

    1. Turned things off - I think in one day alone I must have turned the TV off about 10 times. I am not sure how you can forget to turn it off that many times in one day, but rest assured my kids accomplished that with flying colors. Then of course there were the video games and the lights (yes, during the day) and of course the annoying humming noise that our keyboard made every time my two year old left that on. Now I am sure you are asking, "Why didn't you make the kids turn everything off?" Well, of course I tried, even threatened some type of punishment. But at the end of the day, any type of punishment that might work, such as no more video games, would have resulted in an even longer summer for me. Therefore, I sucked it up, rolled my eyes to myself and turned stuff off. In a long, hot summer one must choose their battles wisely.

    2.  Laundry - Okay, so during the school year there is a lot of laundry, never-ending in fact. But for some reason, during the summer there was ten times as much. Which makes even less sense when I realized that my boys would have worn the same pair of shorts and t-shirt all summer (including to sleep in) had I let them. I am pretty sure they got away it before I noticed a few times. On top of all the laundry, my oldest son would never actually put his nicely folded, clean clothes into his drawers and they would end up everywhere, to the point where I couldn't tell the clean from the dirty. I am pretty sure, however, that some of the loads came from the fact that with the summer being so hot this year, if I left the wash in the washer too long it would start to smell and I had to wash it all over again. My husband hates this, but alas, there is way more going on in my life than laundry and the re-wash is simply a causality of war.

    3. Refereed fights - Now I am not sure how this works with girls because I only have boys, four to be exact, but long, hot summer days typically offers many opportunities for fights among brothers. They usually start out as one being annoyed by the other and it escalates from there. One day there was an all out brawl on the floor and when I finally broke it up I found out it started over one of them not liking the TV show. The fact that we have three other TVs in the house made no difference. Sometimes one of the boys is simply sitting too close to the other or is sitting in their seat. The problem for me is that my boys are starting to get bigger than me and I am so not getting in the middle of their fist fights, but I still have to get them to stop. I also played the he said, he said game about a million times this summer to point that I just don't actually listen to them anymore. As long as no one is bleeding and nothing is broken, I simply walk away. Again, I must choose my battles.

    4. Went to the grocery store - I think that there were weeks in which I made a trip to the grocery store every day. I can remember one time, going two or three times in the same day. I would buy the food and with-in hours it would be gone. If I could bottle the metabolism of ten year old boys and sell it, I would be a millionaire. Of course this leads to my next activity...

    5. Picking up stuff - When my boys eat, for whatever reason, they think nothing of throwing the wrappers and empty containers on the floor or on the couch or wherever they might be lounging. And yes, I did make them clean it up. But inevitably, by the time I came across some of the mess they were long gone for the day. And so I would pick it up. There were days when I felt like I literally followed them around picking up after them. One day, in one of my crazier moods, I decided to clean behind the couch in our playroom. I honestly found over 50 food wrappers. And my first thought was, "Seriously? When they are done eating they throw their trash behind the couch?" I should have taken a picture because I swear no one would believe what I found back there. Who raised these kids?

    6. Drove far and wide

    7. Made up new rules like, no weapons allowed - Okay, so I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would have to set rules about weapons. The story begins on my long journey mentioned above. I picked up my two stepsons about half way on the way to my in-laws. Now I know my oldest stepson has a pocket knife (thanks to the ex who bought him one at nine even though we disagreed because we he had no reason to get a knife since he wasn't a boyscout or a wood whittler or anything, but that could be a whole other blog). However, when I heard them talking about their knives and confiscated them, I was surprised to find that each of the boys had like 3 or 4. They were proud to report that one was even illegal. I am sad to report that they were mistakenly left at Grandma's house when our trip was over.

    8. Learned to hate the Disney channel - First let me say that I honestly think that Disney makes 2 of every show and just replays them a hundred times a day. In all fairness I think Nickelodeon does it too. It's not so annoying when its Mickey mouse but for some reason when I am forced by my three tweens to watch the same iCarly episode 10 times in one week, I want to literally claw my eyes out. And has anyone seen Zeke and Luther? Ugh, kill me now. I did my best not to let the kids watch TV all summer, but I have to admit that a couple day here and there, I needed the break. And I would realize, like 3 episodes in, that I was actually watching this crap. I think they are brainwashing my kids...

    9. Said, "Because I Said So!" a million-gazillion times - Why? Because that is how many times I was asked, "Why?" Enough said...

    10. Let go a little - Being home with the kids all summer made me remember what it was like to be a kid and be completely happy watching the same TV ten times in one day or playing at the park for hours. I am, by nature, very organized and inflexible. Unfortunately, my kids could care less about my shortcomings. So I had to let go a little and realize that if the dishes didn't get done right away, that was okay. Instead, it meant more to spend some time doing silly things with the kids and creating memories that would last forever. I learned that not only would life go on, but I might actually enjoy myself a little bit.

    11. Had a great summer - Now that I look back, I realize it really wasn't all that bad. (I am probably able to say that only because they are now in school) The days I remember were great. We had some really fun days at the beach and some great memories with all of our amazing friends. I may never have the chance to spend the summer with my kids again as I will be heading back to work shortly, so I know I will hold the summer of 2010 close to my heart.

    12. Learned to truly appreciate stay at home moms - Okay, so I knew it would be hard. But no one ever told me it would be close to impossible. And even if they had, I would never have truly understood. I worked from the time I got up til the time I went to bed and sometimes even in the middle of the night. Because at 3 am, my husband would say, "Honey, I have to get up and go to work." Well duh, so do I! And when I am at work I don't get a break. I have no lunch break. My boss does not care that I have to pee, he gives me no privacy. I have to chase my 2 year old around, find ways to entertain him that my ten year old won't complain about. The house needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be done. We need food which means grocery shopping and cooking. If I were to open a grocery store, there would be a bar at the end of every isle so I could quickly take a shot before heading onto the next isle. Because taking my two year old to the grocery store is like being a contestant on Wipeout - it's next to impossible and at the end all I have to show for it (except for food) are some bruises and a headache. What I realized is that after all my hard work, I am really the only one who truly appreciates it. Some nights I would look at my sleeping kids and my clean house and feel really proud, only to be really sad because I had no boss that would recognize all my amazing effort and tell me I had done well. Now I truly understand why they say it's a thankless job. Remember, all  you moms (or dads), you truly are amazing and I want you to know you do an amazing job every day!

    Here's to the start of another school year! (now grab your glass of wine and toast yourself!)